ROKEBY is delighted to announce the first solo exhibition in London by Chinese artist Leung Chi Wo. Leung Chi Wo is one of Hong Kong's leading contemporary artists of a generation influenced by the territory's post-1997 identity and politics.
Leung Chi Wo's multi-disciplinary practice ranges from photography and video to text, performance and installation; he is concerned with the undetermined relationship between conception, perception and understanding, especially in relation to site and history, within cultural and political frameworks. Leung's new wide-ranging body of work has taken over two years to complete and continues his reflective practice, which combines historical exploration with conceptual inquiry within a contemporary urban landscape.
Consisting of photographic installations, lightboxes, print and sculpture the new body of work takes as its starting point, repaired bullet holes found in the Legislative Council Building. Built by English architect Aston Webb, the building is Neoclassical in style and one of the few remaining colonial structures in Hong Kong; the architect took his inspiration from many late 17th and early 18th century English architects and buildings, in particular the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. LEGCO was completed in 1912; fourteen years after the British and Chinese governments signed the Second Convention of Peking. The building originally housed the Supreme Court of Hong Kong, becoming the Legislative Council Building in 1985, with the British return of Hong Kong's sovereignty to China the name of the building was changed again to reflect the Council's Chinese name.
The year prior to the completion of LEGCO, Aston Webb finished the Queen Victoria Memorial, which stands outside Buckingham Palace, the eastern façade of which he redesigned in 1913. The bullet holes in the LEGCO building are often thought to date to World War II during the battle for Hong Kong; when Japan occupied the island the building became the headquarters of the Hong Kong Military Police.
There is no official account of who was responsible for the hundreds of bullet holes. Historically they have simply been put down to 'enemy fire'. In this instance ' a site of shifting power and conflict - the 'enemy' remains anonymous and indefinite. Leung continues his interest in the relativity of perception; how certain histories - and memories -shape our understanding of the world around us; how history is represented and interpreted.
Photographs of the close up bullet holes form light installations which include texts (in English, Japanese and Chinese) etched upon them, these range from a statement by a Japanese tourist to Only time can tell, the response of Zbigniew Brzezinski former National Security Advisor to Jimmy Carter, commenting upon the One Country Two Systems policy. Another quote includes I'm glad we have been bombed, the now famous quote by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother after Buckingham Palace was bombed by Germany's Luftwaffe in 1940.
Other elements of the series include a lightbox with a 1913 quote by Webb referring to his desire to beautify London south of the river and a set of twelve marble sculptures, each a letter spelling 'ENEMY BOMBING' modeled on a commemorative inscription on the Aston Webb facade of the V&A, London after it was bombed.
The work will be seen in London, before being exhibited in Hong Kong underlining the artist's investigations into notions of context and place and further exploring Leung's interest in contradiction and relativism.
Born in Hong Kong Leung Chi Wo graduated with a Master of Fine Arts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, in 1996 he co-founded Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong. Leung Chi Wo has exhibited internationally and represented Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale in 2001. Leung's work will be included in the forthcoming Marrakech Biennale; he has had numerous solo exhibitions including Hanart TZ Gallery, Asia Art Archive and Para/Site, all Hong Kong, and the Queens Museum of Art, New York. His work has been included in several international exhibitions including the Guangzhou Triennial (2008), the Busan Biennale (2006), Gwangju Biennale (2002) and the Shanghai Biennale (2000). Leung has exhibited at Tate Modern, London, PS1, New York, Museu da Imagem e do Som, São Paulo and the Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius amongst others. Leung Chi Wo's work will be included in the Marrakech Biennial 2012.